Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Gambia: That Claim About Curing HIV/AIDS Revisited

Back to that claim
I found myself discussing a blog I wrote over 6 years ago about a vaunted cure for HIV/AIDS which ended up in our agreeing to disagree on some fundamental facts about what might be the truth.
The Gambia in West Africa cannot be said to have the best of reviews from me and for those who read my blog, it would be evident that I don’t do sentiment, I am more excited by data, incontrovertible evidence, corroborated facts and authoritative sources – my science background demands this every time.
To have had to introduce a Gambian to a blog entitled A Gambian Cure for AIDS or An Epidemic of Stupidity is probably not the most subtle way of making friends but some issues needed to be trashed out.
Maybe he does, maybe
My friend believes his president does have the knowledge, know-how and ability to cure diseases - the African way, that might well be possible, and I will not quibble about that, but it is important to put this assertion through a simple test.
Now, say for example, John Doe having been to his doctor in any hospital in the West had by medical diagnosis been confirmed as having the HIV infection, that will be on the record that he is HIV+ (HIV Positive).
John Doe on hearing of President Yahya Jammeh’s healing abilities for HIV/AIDS amongst other diseases as asthma and whatever else, buys a ticket and flies to the Gambia where according to the original news story, the one-day treatment of the disease cures the person of the ailment, he gets to partake of the healing therapy and is presumably cured – that is good for him.
What is the result?
Assuming John Doe decides not to remain in the Gambia but he returns home where one would think he will visit his doctor to medically confirm that the virus has been completely eradicated from his system, there will be clear indicators from his medical history to prove that he contracted HIV, and now he has been cured.
There are clear medical indicators for the presence of HIV in the body, its progression or decline and this is a matured diagnostic system that should leave any doctor in the West in awe and wonder at first before asking his peers to review the tests and then publicly declaring that his HIV patient has by reason of treatments received in the Gambia been cured. [Going by the comments that littered this blog before I deleted and closed it the comment thread, the healed are ready to waive confidentiality, so there are no privacy concerns.]
There have been functional cures and reports of bone marrow transplants leading to cures that have been in the news, it would be utterly uncharitable and unreasonable of any doctor to have discovered a cure outside the purview of medical scrutiny and remain silent about it.
The International HIV & AIDS charity AVERT has documented a series of views, opinions and discussions on A Cure for AIDS and it clearly does not believe that the Gambia has incontrovertible proof of its claims, neither do I.
Feeling better is NOT enough
My friend suggests many Westerners have been to the Gambia have received treatment and are all feeling better, my concern is why none of these people have considered it necessary to return to their doctors to verify, confirm and ascertain the evidence of their cure, if in the least as a matter of gratitude to the President of Gambia who has brought something that defies Western medical science to the world.
Just because the Gambia is a small country does not mean it cannot produce geniuses who have ideas that border on the miraculous, but what I am not prepared to accept is the idea that anything that has been medically confirmed as present cannot later on be medically confirmed as absent after treatment regardless of whether you are Gambian, African, or from any other place in the world.
Let us agree on this
We must agree that medical scrutiny and peer review is paramount and critical to any claims of cure or that claim is questionable at best and must be challenged to the point of complete repudiation at worst.
I am also ready to review any additional information that comes to light about the cures for HIV/AIDS which pass the muster of tests that determine the presence of the virus before treatment and the eradication of the virus after treatment, and I extend this to include all therapies including faith healing – none are above the need for medical verification without which we must with all reasonableness debunk the claims and label the 'healers' purveyors of snake-oil remedies – charlatans and quacks.
If your doctor discovered your condition, allow your doctor the most basic courtesy of wonder, awe, amazement and incredulity by returning after your treatment, you must never ever stop your medication on anyone’s advice but that of a medically qualified practitioner, hopefully that will be your doctor too.
I have nothing against the Gambia or the person of the President of Gambia with his eccentricities, but the need for proof cannot be excused and for all the good that the Gambia might have for our very sick world, a standard of analysis and verification must exist, for notoriety between you and me, is not the way to get Gambia into the international limelight.

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